Celebrate Día de los Muertos with These Delicious Recipes
Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) is a widely celebrated holiday in Mexico and has been growing in popularity here in the U.S. It gets its roots from ancient Aztec traditions honoring death. Day of the Dead is a celebration of family and ancestors. From October 31st to November 2nd, spirits from the afterlife return to visit their loved ones who celebrate the return of the spirits and ancestors with delicious food and visits to the grave sites in festive attire.
Many families plan a welcome home fiesta for the spirits of their loved ones, who they invite to enjoy the altar, listen to festive music and visit with family as they celebrate. It is believed that a slight breeze, a beautiful butterfly, or even a hummingbird can carry their spirit. Sugar skulls, also known as Calaveras or calaveritas de azucar, are among the most recognizable part of traditional Día de los Muertos displays.These sugar skulls are often elaborately decorated with glitter, sequins and jewels. They have become a symbol of the Day of the Dead and play an important role in the celebration, as many families gift the children tiny skulls to enjoy at the fiesta.
The ofrenda (the altar), traditionally includes yellow marigolds (cempasuchil). It is believed that the sweet scent leads the departed home toward their altar, water, photos, and favorite foods and drinks. All ofrendas feature four important elements: Water, Wind, Fire and Earth. Earth is represented with food, Fire is represented by a candle, Wind is represented by colorful paper ornaments and there is always water for the journey. Ofrenda foods typically include bread, fruit, chocolate, or sweets and a dish representative of that person’s or family’s meals. Tamales and Atole (porridge) are very typical of both ofrendas and graveside displays. Pan de muerto, a special bread made with raisins, aniseed or orange blossom water, are shaped into rounds, topped with dough formed into “bones” or crosses, then topped with sugar.
Día de los Muertos can be celebrated in many ways and can vary depending on your family’s traditions or where you’re from. Since I’m from South Texas, I like to incorporate oranges, grapefruit and lemons as they’re representative of my family’s unique heritage. The celebration of Día de los Muertos is something near and dear to my heart. I recently had the opportunity to host a local Day of the Dead event to share the true beauty of holiday with some of my dearest friends. Several local chefs were invited to created recipes that celebrate their loved ones. I shared a cocktail to honor my abuelito. Local artists also walked our guests through the process of creating their own traditional altar at home. It was a truly incredible event.
Check out three Day of the Dead recipes to make this year.
Pork Tinga with Squash
A pork tinga made with beer and three kinds of squash is comfort food at its best. Served with a dollop of spicy guacamole and topped with a crispy tostada, this recipe is a wonderful dish for fall. Even better, it can be made in a slow cooker!
Fried Drum with Marigold Crema
This Day of the Dead recipe is a nod to our South Texas coastal town. This drum is lightly dusted with seasoned cornstarch, fried until golden brown, and served with a creamy marigold crema. The delicious crema is made with caramelized onions, garlic, and dried marigold flowers and it perfectly complements the fried fish.
Mango Marigold Margarita
Marigolds are considered the flower of the dead. This vibrant Day of the Dead margarita made with marigold-infused tequila, fresh mango juice, and plenty of lime juice, is a great way to try the flowers for the first time.
Vianney Rodriguez is an award-winning food blogger, recipe developer, and the author of Latin Twist, a collection of delicious Latin-inspired cocktails. On Sweet Life, I share my passion for good food and experiences and memories celebrated with family, through travel, entertaining, and soul-satisfying meals. Every post on Sweet Life is filled with the vibrant culture and food of South Texas. As a proud Tejana, I invite you to join me on this journey and to experience all the rich culture that Texas has to offer.